Death in a Glass

DeathInAGlass.jpg

Endurance athletes are risking death by drinking excessive amounts of a substance that causes brain cells to swell.

According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking excessive amounts of the substance dilutes the sodium content of the athlete’s blood. This can lead to rapid and dangerous swelling of the brain. A recent article in the New York Times reported that "The engorged brain cells, with no room to expand, press against the skull and can compress the brain stem, which controls vital functions like breathing. The result can be fatal."

The name of the deadly substance?

Water.

USA Track and Field is now advising long-distance runners to avoid drinking too much water during events like marathons. Instead of trying to stay ahead of their thirst, runners should use thirst as a signal to drink.

In ordinary circumstances there’s little risk that people will drink so much water that they’ll die. But some are probably drinking more than they need to stay healthy. According to a 2002 media release from the American Physiological Society, most Americans don’t need to the drink 8 glasses of water a day dictated by health folklore (and water company marketers). Dartmouth Medical School’s Heinz Valtin questioned the myth in a review article for the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology (pdf).

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Mary
2021 years ago

Drinking too much water is a risk for some drug users, who are also advised to drink huge amounts of water to combat dehydration brought on by dancing and by the drugs diminishing their feelings of thirst. It was implicated in the death of Anna Wood (who died aged 15 in 1995 after taking MDMA): see the coroner’s report at http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/mdma/mdma_health5.shtml

observa
observa
2021 years ago

Oh dear Don! Mrs O and her walking friends with their bottled water are going to hate you for this. Debunking one of their urban myths which I’ve steadfastly refused to go along with. We blokes drink at work when we’re thirsty and tea or coffee at smoko can suffice in mild weather.

When I worked in the tropics as a lad(Gove NT), we used to take salt tablets supplied on the job. If you didn’t you’d wake up in the night with shocking leg cramps. So much for salt free diets.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2021 years ago

‘Zactly why I drink alcohol first and foremost over water. I mean it’s not like booze ever hurt anyone.
And as WC Fields once famously observed, on being offered a glass of water, that ” fish fuck in it.” In the same vein, I always decline mineral or designer water on the grounds that fish have meaningful relationships within the bottled product.

I had a big point to make here – but thanks to my aversion to imbibing anything that may have hosted a Piscean bukkake shindig – I’m now just getting very pissed instead.

So talk amongst yourselves. Water anyone?

Mindy
Mindy
2021 years ago

Oh no Nabakov does that mean you have to stop breathing too because people …

John Morhall
John Morhall
2021 years ago

WC Fields also said “it was a woman who led me down the road to drink, and I never had the courtesy to thank her!” As a purely amateur piss artist, I think that he may have had a point. It’s reaasuring to know that my aversion to drinking water was purposive in retrospect.

John Morhall
John Morhall
2021 years ago

WC Fields also said “it was a woman who led me down the road to drink, and I never had the courtesy to thank her!” As a purely amateur piss artist, I think that he may have had a point. It’s reaasuring to know that my aversion to drinking water was purposive in retrospect.

blank
blank
2021 years ago

Elsewhere the Mayo Clinic says that dehydration is a much greater threat.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=DS00561

“What’s more, even mild dehydration —

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Blank

Yes, I’m glad someone brought the thread back to its more serious aspects. Even the Mayo Clinic article to which Don linked makes your point:

“Dehydration during prolonged exercise is still far more common than low blood sodium. So, it’s important to start exercise well hydrated and to drink appropriate amounts of fluid during exercise.”

Moreover, if you’ve done much long distance running (as I did a few years ago before succumbing to middle aged sloth and achilles/calf problems), you’d know that it actually isn’t all that easy to load up with too much water while running. The fluid sloshes in your stomach and makes you feel very uncomfortable. Moreover, most long-distance athletes use some variant of a sports drink (like Gatorade) to guard against depletion of body salts through sweating.

So I wouldn’t get too carried away by this story. Even more so for people living in a hot climate like Darwin, dehydration is a vastly larger risk, and frequent fluid intake (preferably of a sports-type drink) is still highly recommended AFAIK.

jen
jen
2021 years ago

I was talking to Jes’ (my 10 year old) teacher the other day.
Apparently Jes does not associate thirst with dehydration or even needing to drink. According to him she experiences it as ‘I feel hot and thirsty’, end of story.

She has to be told to drink along with 95% of the rest of the class who come in sweating and hot after lunchtime.

And the amazing thing is that even having been told to drink, the kids including Jes deny any need for this.

I teach dance at High School and send the kids out after 30-40mins to get a drink and even then there are kids that tell me they don’t need one, yet they are visibly losing energy. (as am I)

Fish may fuck in it, but it makes a huge difference to energy levels up here, and, anyway, sex is good for us.

Helen
2021 years ago

That’s very odd Jen. I know people are getting out of touch with the nexus between hunger and food, but thirst? That’s kind of weird. Might be some psychologist’s PhD topic perhaps?